Litany for Good Things (Proper 25, Year B)

This litany is based on a reading of the Lectionary passages for this week from Job, Psalms, and Jeremiah: “With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble…”

God, you invented all things from nothing.
Your imagination was the beginning of everything.
We get to experience life and beauty
Because you imagined them.
We get to explore and learn in the world
Because you brought us out of yourself.

We get stuck a lot on judging things and situations.
We say “this is good and that is bad.”
We approve some things and condemn others.
We accept some experiences and resist others.

But the truth is, resistance causes us suffering;
No purpose of yours can be thwarted (1).
The truth is, we can’t know the vastness of your goodness,
And our best option is to surrender to it.

Even in what we consider trouble,
You do good things.
Even when we experience pain,
You do good things.
Even when all we see is chaos,
You do good things.

We surrender now to the Highest Good,
The Deepest Joy,
The Biggest Love,
The Best Life.
And it’s in you, God; made by and through you, for you, for us:
The Divine Goodness.

May we who sow in tears
Reap with shouts of joy (2).
May we seek Goodness
And find it all the days of our lives.

Amen

1) Job 42:2
2) Psalm 126:5



Litany for Conscious Anger

God, so many of us go around with anger simmering right under the surface of our emotions:
We’ve been wronged.
We’ve been traumatized.
We’ve been duped.
There is injustice.
There are broken systems.
We’re angry with ourselves.
We’re angry with others.

And sometimes we can’t understand what you’re doing so we are angry with you
We feel you’ve forgotten us.
We feel like the world is falling to pieces around us,
And you have failed us.

Our anger can be a useful tool
That propels us toward right action,
Fuels our good works,
And causes us to change.

But sometimes our anger doesn’t find its proper place -
It burrows down and festers;
Causing us more pain than the wound did to begin with,
And its effects seep out sideways.

Oh God, teach us to deal rightly with anger:
To funnel its energy properly,
To release it at the appropriate time and place,
To protect ourselves from anger gone bad.

Teach us how not to fight anger with anger,
But to be peacemakers and lovers;
Reflecting the image of Christ,
And covered in grace. Amen

Litany for the Heart (Proper 17, Year B)

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This week’s Gospel reading comes from Mark 7, where Jesus is challenged by some Pharisees as to why his disciples don’t follow all the rules they ought to. And Christ seems to think they are focusing on the wrong things, that the inward state of the heart is more worth working on.

 

God, the current of your love is flowing to us;
We don’t want anything to get in the way of it -
Not anything outside of us,
Or anything inside our own hearts.

We are beginning to understand that evil
Is whatever impedes love.
So help us, God; and don’t let us get caught in the trap
Of following rules,
Of observing tradition,
Of controlling behavior,
Of managing appearances,
And ignoring the state of our hearts.

We know we must be transformed from the inside out
That we must do inner work to become aligned with love:*
Disconnecting from judgement,
Releasing resentment,
Clearing hostility,
Relinquishing pride,
Cultivating compassion,
Creating peace.

And we know that we must allow love to work on us, removing impediments,
Restoring us to our truest nature:
God-children,
Love-centered,
Heart-open,
Christ-conscious,
Creative beings,
Reflecting your heart in ours.

Let our hearts, like beacons, point the way to yours,
Shining Love’s illumination. Amen


*I actually believe we ARE aligned with love, we just have to wake up and realize it, and clear out all the stuff that keeps us from seeing it. But for the purposes of the flow of this prayer, I’m using this wording.

Litany for Revealing

Last week’s news about large-scale sexual abuse of children by clergy in a Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania has shaken and sickened a lot of people, myself included. It’s another example of the great revealing (apocalypse) that is happening in these days. Hidden things are coming to light. #metoo and #churchtoo are happening. White supremacy and racism are coming to the forefront of the collective consciousness in a new way. Motives and deep-seated sins, what the scriptures call “powers, principalities, and spiritual forces,” are being revealed. Evils that have gone unacknowledged (in a mainstream way) are coming into light.

I believe this is the Community of Heaven breaking in. And our task is not to resist it, but to become contemplative, to listen and examine our complicities, to search our own hearts; to “get our people,” as my Black teachers say - by which they mean we should be speaking to our own tribes and inner circles and helping them get on board and understand.

Whenever I think of what’s been happening the last couple of years*, I get the image in my mind of a glacier moving over a land mass, slowly slowly, leaving behind a mess of rubble and fertile soil and reshaped landscape. Our first step is admitting our landscape needs reshaping, which we can’t see unless we step back far enough to get a good view. The evidence is in every school shooting, every Black life ended by police, every Nazi rally, every sexual abuse scandal, every Latinx child separated from her parents at the border, every executed prisoner, and on and on. Without a doubt, our landscape needs reshaping.

And it’s coming. Millimeter by millimeter. Breath by breath. Prayer by prayer. Awakening by awakening. It’s coming and is happening now. The kingdom of God is at hand. The Community of Heaven has work to do. We shirk and deny and resist and cling to the past at our own risk. Help or get out of the way.

 

God, forces are at work in our world,
Which are at odds with your goals:
Death and destruction,
Injustice and abuse,
Apathy and self-centeredness,
Violence and hatred,
Status quo and inertia,
Distraction and disregard.

Evil is being revealed,
And hidden sins brought to light.
But ahead we can see,
Your kingdom coming,
Your people awakening,
Your glory shining.

We can see how today’s messy revealing
Is tomorrow’s hope,
How the rubble of today’s destroyed systems
Is tomorrow’s fertile soil.

So we trust,
And we follow,
And we stay awake
And we keep watch.
And we don’t shirk our work,
And we don’t deny our complicity,
And we don’t disempower the prophets,
And we don’t silence the marginalized.
And we don’t surround ourselves with so much noise that we can’t hear your voice.
And we don’t allow ourselves to despair.

We beat our swords into ploughshares.
We set our tables and open our doors.
We make way for the Community of God.
We prepare the way of the Lord.

Help us to humbly accept all the change that must happen,
In our society and in our own hearts,
To work together for new life and for good,
And to walk the peaceful way of Christ. Amen

 

*Really, what's been happening has been happening for a couple millenia, with various movements and intensities. I'm taking a micro-within-a-macro view here. With lots of gratitude and appreciation for the saints who have gone before me.
 

Litany for Wisdom (Proper 15, Year B)

This week’s Lectionary selections center around Wisdom, and the search for Wisdom. We see Wisdom personified as a Divine Feminine aspect in Proverbs; we hear God’s pleasure in Solomon’s request for Wisdom in 1 Kings; and we are exhorted to live “not as unwise people, but wise” in Ephesians 5. In the Proverbs, we are invited to eat the bread at Wisdom's table, and later in John 6, Christ identifies himself as that bread.


God, as Solomon asked for Wisdom of old,
So we ask for insight and understanding.

We hear Wisdom calling (1);
Let us answer her.
Come, let us commune with Wisdom:
Let us enter her house,
Eat of her table,
And enjoy her delights.

For you have offered yourself, oh God:
Wisdom, Word, and Bread -
Different facets of yourself, different metaphors;
Same loving Spirit.

Give us hearts that hunger and thirst for Wisdom,
For true wisdom and understanding:
That we may lay aside immaturity, and live,
That we may and walk in the way of insight (2).
That we may depart from evil, and do good;
That we may seek peace, and pursue it (3);
Making for ourselves and the generations to come,
A world rich in spirit, and rich in peace.

Amen

1) Proverbs 9:3
2) Proverbs 9:6
3) Psalm 34:14

Litany for Embracing Race

As I have been getting an education on race, and as injustices and harm continue to happen, and as our society's inherent racism continues to be revealed; I feel compelled to write about race. I write as a white person primarily to white people. I write as a pastor, sometimes preacher, friend, and as an ally of People of Color. If you need a place to start your education, I recommend Austin Channing-Brown's _I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness_.


God, we can get an education in injustice,
If we are open to receiving it.
Soften our hearts, oh God,
That we may be willing to learn.

We acknowledge that the structures that make up our society have advantaged whiteness,
And disadvantaged People of Color.
We acknowledge that our Black and Brown siblings suffer in the same institutions and circumstances
In which whiteness finds comfort.
We acknowledge that privilege has suffering as its underbelly,
And oppression as its hidden cost.

We know that the time has come for our collective blindness to be revoked,
For the comfort of whiteness to lose priority,
For the weight of institutional injustice to be lifted,
For us to confront our pride,
For humility to become our prized virtue,
For listening to characterize our conversations.

Thank you for sending us the Christ
To show us a vision of a New Society
     A New City
     A New Era
     A New Government
     A New Law:
Where humanity is seen and valued;
Where privilege is a thing to be shared;
Where deference and gentleness are our best conventions;
Where institutions care for the disadvantaged;
Where race is not only tolerated, but embraced and admired;
Where diversity is beauty;
Where we are able to look beyond basic equality,
     toward Abundant Life and thriving for all (1).

And we are thankful, Oh God, for that institution begun by Christ -
The Church, the Body of Christ on Earth -
In which we re-imagine human relationships in light of Christ’s priorities;
And for this life you give us, which is love’s proving ground.

Amen

1) John 10:10

Litany for Compassion Fatigue (Proper 11, Year B)

In this week's Gospel reading, we see a tired Christ surrounded by tired disciples, looking for some rest and respite from their work. But they can't find it, even when they get on a boat and sail away to an empty place. Crowds of the sick and needy still find them there. And Christ sees the crowd and Mark's gospel says "he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd."

If you are suffering from compassion fatigue in these times, you're not alone. Maybe this litany will be helpful to you.

 

God, we bear witness to Christ:
In scripture,
In spirit,
And in our own experience.

We see the times when he and his disciples were exhausted
By the constant cries of distressed people,
By exerting themselves in service
By crowds and noise and need.

We have felt those same feelings,
And needed similar rest.

Help us not to grow irritable or resistant
To the needs of human beings;
But to have compassion for your people,
The sheep of your pasture.
For we are among them,
Hungry and in need of healing;
Hoping to touch the fringe of Christ’s cloak (Mark 6:56),
Hoping for miracles.

Help us to find respite from noise and distraction
And find connection with you,
Life with you,
Nourishment with you,
Peace with you,
Rest with you.

As as we daily enter the quiet place of restoration,
May we find you there.
And when we must go a little farther, pour out a little more,
May we receive our strength from you.
Amen

Ordinary Time (Year B): Litany for the Desperate

This week's Lectionary passages contain such amazing stories and David and Goliath and Christ stilling the sea, but also a deep sense of God's care for the afflicted and desperate.

 

God, it’s mostly by our own collective blindness
That we have the poor among us.
This is the pit we have made and fallen into;
This is the net that has caught us (1):
We favored the rich
And disregarded the needy.

But, by your mercy, the needy won’t always be forgotten;
Nor the hope of the poor perish (2).

Over and over in the scriptures, we read stories of people who miraculously overcome great obstacles:
     Boys who slay giants with stones (3),
     Women who defeat armies with tent pegs (4),
     Full jars of oil and grain despite famine (5),
     Desperate fathers whose daughters rise from deathbeds (6),
     Locked prison doors flying open (7),
     Dangerous seas calmed at a word (8),
     Crucified Christ resurrected (9).
From these stories, and many more
We take hope.

For in our deepest desperation,
You meet us.
In our poverty of spirit,
You meet us.
In our blindness and apathy,
You meet us.

Things don’t always turn out the way we want them to in this life,
But your eye is always on the afflicted.
Come to us now, Holy One, in our desperation and need;
Still our storms;
Bring us all to a place of rest,
And make us glad in the quiet. (10) Amen.*


*I recommend including a pause for silence here.

  1. Psalm 9:15

  2. Psalm 9:18

  3. 1 Samuel 17:49

  4. Judges 4:21

  5. 2 Kings 4:1-7

  6. Mark 5:23

  7. Acts 16:26

  8. Mark 4:39

  9. Mark 16:6

  10. Psalm 107:30

 

Litany for the Border

If you're unaware of what's happening currently at the US Border, please read up on it. And pray.
 

Oh God, we lament the trauma that is happening to asylum seekers at the U.S. Border
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for an end to separation of families, the desperation of parents and children, and the degradation of their dignity.
Lord, have mercy.

We lament the violence and corruption that is forcing these immigrants to leave their home countries.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for an end to corrupt government, violent power structures, and poor living conditions in Central America.
Lord, have mercy.

We lament the policy decisions enacted by our own U.S. leadership that have led to the traumatizing of children and infants.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for humane and just legislation to be passed by congress immediately.
Lord, have mercy.

We lament our own societal apathy, our tendency to be blind and uncaring toward the alien, the refugee, the orphan, the widow.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray for the reformation of our own hearts, that we may have the compassion and wisdom of Christ.
Lord, have mercy.

For peace in Central America,
We pray to the Lord.
For humane practices at our borders,
We pray to the Lord.
For just and compassionate government here at home,
We pray to the Lord.
For loving hearts toward all seeking safety,
We pray to the Lord.  

May the love of Christ compel and bind us, from the poorest and most powerless to the most privileged and powerful.
May the light of Christ shine upon us all. Amen

Litany for God Our Father

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This is a companion litany to Litany for God Our Mother.


God, who created fathers
And invented fathering,
Help us to see you more completely,
In your wholeness.

For those of us who don’t have fathers
Be our good father.
For those of us who have painful relationships with our fathers,
Be our good father.
For those of us who are fathers of children,
Be our good father.
For those of us who are spiritual fathers,
Be our good father.
For those of us whose ideas about fathering need reinventing,
Be our good father.

We know that for you, being a good father does not mean toxic masculinity,
Or domination,
But that you care for us with exceeding kindness,
     With attentiveness (1),
     With celebration (2),
     With generosity (3),
     With surrounding (4),
     With provision (5),
     With emotion (6),
     With love (7).

We know that you are father, mother, friend, helper
Lover of our souls;
Your love is constantly exceeding our expectations,
And redefining our terms.

May we reflect your fathering love,
Living in light of your example. Amen

1)Isaiah 65:24
2) Luke 15:22-23
3) Timothy 6:17
4) Psalm 32:7
5) Luke 11:11
6) Psalm 86:15, Zephaniah 3:17

Ordinary Time (Year B): Litany for Crazy ol' Jesus

The Lectionary passages for Proper 5 (Year B) contain the story of the time Jesus' family thought he had gone crazy. His ideas and practices were so far outside of their comfort zone that they thought he'd gone nuts. The text says: “When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, "He has gone out of his mind" (Mark 3:21).

This is what I love about him. Unexpected, unconventional, challenger of expectations and assumption; dumping old paradigms for what's sane and respectable and inventing new ones made out of entirely different stuff.

 

Christ, you arrived on earth with a lot of harebrained ideas.
People thought you were crazy
For your unconventional brand of kindness,
For breaking rules,
For making unexplainable miracles happen,
For re-interpreting scripture,
For rejecting violent means ,
For consorting with sinners,
For re-defining family (1);
For giving unexpected advice:
     Like, love your enemies
     Be humble
     Pray for those who persecute you
     Don’t judge
     Consider the poor
     Make peace.

You baffled everybody you met, from the time you were a child.
You’re still astounding us now.

It’s this same unpredictable grace,
This dazzling mercy,
This lively Love
This upside-down agenda,
That captures our imaginations many years after you last walked the earth in flesh.
We are captivated by you.

Look, here are our hearts:
Put your own heart in us.
Look, here are our minds:
Awaken them.
Look, here are our hands:
Show us the work to do.
Look, here are our voices:
Teach us to speak mercy.

You, crazy old Jesus! You ineffable Force of Love:
You’re the one we want to follow.

Amen
 

1) Mark 3:35

Litany for Re-Birth

This litany is based upon the Gospel reading for Trinity Sunday, Year B, the story of Nicodemus and his nighttime run on enlightenment. If you're looking for a litany more specifically geared toward Trinitarian themes, please see this one.

 

Christ, we hate to admit that we can identify with Nicodemus,
Who had a reputation to uphold;
So he came to visit you at night, through the back door; (1)
Burning with curiosity,
Hoping for enlightenment on the sly.
You know how secretly needy we are.

You are a leader of rascals and rebels,
Keeper of mysteries,
Able to reach over the laws of nature
And grab hold of the miraculous,
Pulling it into our here and now:
Miracles of healing and transcendence.

We are fascinated by you,
And a little confused.
We are humbled by you.
You teach us how little we know.

You are like a telescope,
Showing us the mysteries of heaven.
You are like a mirror,
Showing us our potential.

You seem to speak to us in riddles: To get to the end,
We must go back to the beginning.
To get to the Community of God
We must be re-born. (2)

Well, birth is a messy business,
A rite of passage for all.
Grant that we may participate in this mystery:
To be born of spirit
From the womb of heaven
Into the arms of heaven.

Amen

1) John 3:2
2) John 3:3

Litany for God Our Mother

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I came across this hymn “Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth” written by Jean Janzen (1991) and based on text from the 14th Century mystic Julian of Norwich.

Mothering God, you gave me birth
in the bright morning of this world.
Creator, source of every breath,
you are my rain, my wind, my sun.

Mothering Christ, you took my form,
offering me your food of light,
grain of new life, and grape of love,
your very body for my peace.

Mothering Spirit, nurturing one,
in arms of patience hold me close,
so that in faith I root and grow
until I flow’r, until I know.

The beauty and simplicity of Janzen's lyrics were part of the inspiration for this week’s Mother’s Day litany. I know that there are many for whom motherhood is a painful subject. I wanted to create space here for those who are not mothers but wish they were, for those for whom motherhood has caused pain, for those whose mothers were unhealthy or hurtful, for those who have lost mothers or children, and for those who don't aspire to motherhood.

There are also those of us women who grew up in churchy contexts who were taught that motherhood was the pinnacle of our aspirations in life. That woman = husband + child. That somehow, on our own we were unworthy of existence. So I also want to create space for those who have had to do battle against those ideas. You are worthy of the loving nurture of God; God's eye is on mothers and non-mothers and non-traditional mothers alike.


Great Mother God
Who created mothers
And invented mothering,
Mother us now:
    Into your peace and comfort,
    Into your nurturing love,
    Into the kindness of your presence,
    Into the shadow of your wings.

We know that mothering takes many forms,
And is done by many kinds of people
In different ways and situations;
Give us the wisdom of your mother-heart.

We know that love is risky:
There’s always the possibility of pain,
The risk of disappointment or loss.
Give us the courage of your mother-heart.

We bring to you the cares of the brokenhearted.
We bring to you the pain of the disappointed.
We bring to you the hardship of the overwhelmed.
We bring to you the ache of the separated.

Teach us the worth of our own souls,
And the value of our existence.

Give us your mother-love:
To heal us,
To nourish us,
To share freely with the world.
Amen

 

 


 

Easter 3 (Year B): Litany for the Body of Christ

This litany is drawn from a reading of the Lectionary passages for the Third Sunday in Easter, Year B.

Resurrected Christ, you came to us after your journey through death,
Speaking peace,
Eating and drinking,
Embodied and whole.

And yet, your body still bore the scars of your acceptance,
The marks of your ordeal.
As we, too, bear the scars of our trauma
In this we find hope.

In your body you wear the full arc of humanity:
    It’s struggle and hope,
    It’s birth and death,
    It’s pain and redemption.
Also you carry the full spectrum of divinity:
    Creation’s origin,
    The seeds of the cosmos
    Love’s power.

And these are echoed within us, too:
In Spirit’s presence,
In DNA’s intertwined strands,
In Imago Dei. (1)

So we set out to echo, each day of our lives on this earth,
Your “Peace Be With You,” (2)
Your graceful mission,
Your healing presence,
Your hopeful faith,
Your unstoppable love.

Grant that we may reflect the fullness of your beauty
In all we are, all we say, and all we do.

Amen.



(1) Imago Dei is a latin term meaning "image of God" that applies to humans and refers to the relationship between Creator and created.
(2) Luke 24:36
 

Easter Day (Year B): Litany for Christ’s Life

God, in human form you lived on the earth,
Doing ordinary things;
But also doing extraordinary things:
Preaching, teaching, healing, calling.
You proclaimed the Good News from a human mouth:
The Kingdom of God is here!

Your good work and proclamation drew the attention of worldly powers
Who perceived it as a threat,
Because it was: The kingdom of God undoes everything it touches
And builds it again newly.

And, by the power of human sin, violence, and confusion -
You were killed -
A fate you did not resist, but instead accepted -
You were buried -
So that you might shame the powers, and teach them a new way:
You were resurrected!

Hallelujah! This changes everything!
Hallelujah!
From the enemies we love, to the suffering we accept -
Hallelujah!
From the violence we reject, to the justice-mercy-healing work we do -
Hallelujah!
This Way-of-God-come-down-to-earth completely rearranges our perspective!
Hallelujah!

For Christ has torn the temple down
And rebuilt it.
The Way of God came down.
The Way of God lives on in us.

Amen

 

Good Friday (Year B): Litany for Christ's Work

I encourage everyone to read the lectionary passages for Good Friday, Year B, before reading this litany.

God, we know that in our darkest hour, when we feel like you have forsaken us
You are with us.
There, in the darkness and pain,
You are with us.
In the grief and disappointment,
You are with us.

We know that the pain is never unending,
Although it consumes us in the moment.
We know that the end of the story is never death
Although we often feel it is.
We know that the darkness of a tomb is never our ultimate home,
Although when we’re there we feel we will never leave.
We know that the Savior, God Incarnate, went willingly to pain, death, and tomb,
To show us the end of suffering.

And in his suffering,
We find hope.
In his going down to darkness,
We find light.
In his succumbing to death,
We find life.

Christ allowed the powers of this world to do their dirty work on him,
So he could teach us about redemption.
And it is on this work, Christ’s work, that we meditate,
To learn something precious.

Amen

Lent 3 (Year B): Litany for Anger

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This week in the Lectionary, we read the account of Jesus clearing the temple of corruption in John 2.  We get the idea that the sellers and moneychangers who had set up shop there are perhaps doing some corruption, and Jesus is mad about it. Using religion for economic gain, perhaps? Exploiting the poor in the name of religion? Wielding economic power unjustly? Maybe confusing the economic interests of a wealthy few with the good of all? Or maybe confusing their "rights" with their responsibility to care for the poor and dependent?

Whatever it was, Jesus wasn't having it. He got angry and caused a ruckus. He turned tables and dumped moneyboxes, and had himself a good cathartic outburst. I wonder how long he'd held it in before he finally let it boil over?

And this scripture is timely. I think a lot of us are angry. Some of us, because we feel threatened and defensive in light of the justice movements happening in our culture. Some of us, because we've been victimized and justice still hasn't come. We need the contemplative mind, the self-reflective mind, the non-reactive mind, to help us through angry times
.


God, we are angry:
Angry at injustice,
Angry at violence,
Angry at empire.

Some of us are angry and acting out
Some of us are asleep to our anger
Some of us are stuck in anger.
Some of us have buried our anger.
Some of us are angry because we feel threatened.
Some of us are angry because we feel victimized.

We wait for the day when we are at peace
When mercy reigns
When all hearts are filled with love
When we don’t need anger anymore.

Until that day, help us oh God, to handle our anger with care;
To not be consumed by it
To funnel it into justice and mercy,
To temper it with strong love,
To be angry without sin,
To do justly without vengeance.

Let the words of our mouths
And the meditation of our hearts
Be acceptable to you, O LORD,
Our rock and our redeemer. (1)

Make of us,
By prayer, fasting, and charity,
By spiritual practice and discipline,
A people filled with love.

Amen

1) Psalm 19:4

Lent 2 (Year B): Litany for Memento Mori

A few months ago I purchased an ornamental skull and hung it on a wall. It’s gilt, and made to look like the skull of some kind of bull. I didn’t really know why I did this, except that there was something about the skull that was compelling to me; something edgy but true. In other words I didn’t do this strictly for decorative reasons. I hung it in the bathroom, which freaked the children out a little, but now everyone sees the skull whenever they do the business that living people do.

Weeks later I learned, quite by accident (from Sister Theresa Aletheia on twitter), about the ancient tradition of Memento Mori (1), Latin for “remember death.” It’s the practice of intentionally remembering that death is unpredictable and imminent, to remind us to live well, do what matters, not waste time on vanities. Many people practice Memento Mori by keeping a skull in view, so that they are reminded to live well whenever they see it. I had inadvertently stumbled into my own Memento Mori practice.

So this is what I thought of when I read this week’s Lectionary reading from Mark 8. Jesus informs his followers that he will have to endure suffering, rejection, and death; and then after that he’ll rise again. Some of the apostles, particularly Peter, just can’t deal with this idea. I can just hear him: "What’s this about death? Death has no part of this equation we are working on here! Death is far away, an abstract idea! We don’t have to think about that now! How humiliating that you would even think of letting death take you, Jesus!" And Jesus rebukes Peter, telling him that in his utter denial of death having any part in the narrative, he is “setting [his] mind not on divine things but on human things” (2).

In the season of Lent we are invited to remember our mortality, and our immortality. We are given permission to contemplate what is humanly (but not divinely) considered morbid. We begin by admonishing one another: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” And we end by celebrating the life that comes after the dust, after the death.



God, we know from the narratives and themes within scripture
That the road to life is fraught with death
That the road to safety is fraught with peril
That the road to light is fraught with darkness.

We know from the narratives and themes within nature
That to get to spring we pass through winter.
That to get fertile soil, there must be compost and decay.
That to get to bloom we pass through buried seed.

We know from the narratives and themes within our own lives
That mistakes and failures teach us
That wisdom comes from experience, and often from hardship and loss
That growing up means learning hard lessons.

Death follows us everywhere we go in this life.
Nothing living is immune.

As Christ went down to death for three days
So we must follow:
Down, past death
    Death to self (3)
    Death to assumption
    Death to expectation
    Death to control
We are brought low by this humility.

And in turn, out past death we find a mystery:
What we thought was lost is found (4).
Death has hatched something altogether new:
Glorious life!

So, we accept our mission:
To live well,
To face death,
And learn the lesson of resurrection.

Amen

  1. More info about Memento Mori

  2. Mark 8:33

  3. Mark 8:34

  4. Mark 8:35


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Epiphany, Year B (Week 3): Litany for New Creation

This litany contains references to selections from the Lectionary texts for January 21, 2018 (Year B).

God, even now, in ways we can hardly comprehend
The old is passing away.
Your voice, the voice of Christ, speaks to us:
“The time is fulfilled
the kingdom of God has come near;
turn from evil, and believe in the good news." (1)

All around the world there is turmoil
There is suffering, hunger, and war.
Here in our midst there is upheaval:
In our government, society, and streets.
But we see the subtle ways in which you work:
New creation steadily appearing.

Help us, oh God, to pay attention
To the nearness of your Kingdom,
To the rhythms of your working,
To the newness of life around us,
To the opportunities in our midst,
To the mystery of Christ within us.

For the present form of this world is passing away. (2)
New Creation has already taken hold
And is working and growing behind the scenes,
Beyond the screen of what our eyes can see.

Trust in God at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before God;
God is a refuge for us.
Power and steadfast love belong to God. (3)

Amen

  1. Mark 1:15

  2. 1Corinthians 7:31

  3. Psalm 62:8,12